I had a talk with Ryan in front of the fire. He shared with me that he is thinking of joining the Army after high school. He was nervous, maybe even afraid to tell me. He anticipated my reaction to be negative. He anticipated this because I have rules…. One of my rules is “don’t go into the army, we are not a military family…” I have actually said this out loud in the past. I actually think my rules need to be said out loud.
What I mean is this. I don’t think I would know how to be the Mom of a son or daughter in the army. Those Moms are braver than I am. I have tremendous respect for people in the Armed Forces but I am not that strong. I’m not sure I am built that way. When I saw him looking at me and wanting my approval, I swallowed my rule, took a huge deep breath and said: “Your job here is to be you, I can’t be you. I might not make that choice for myself. But I will support you if it is your choice.”
The relief in his face was worth the anxiety building in my chest. Then he told me about all the people he had talked to about it. And I got to hear about why he was thinking about it and how he had sought out information and opinions before he came to me. I got to hear that one young man we know who is in the Army gave him the best advice, he said, “it’s a great place to be if you really want to be here.” That gave me the chance to open up and ask –Do you have a passion for this? If you have passion for something and you do it, you will likely do it well. He let me know that yes, he feels strongly about it but he hasn’t made up his mind, yet. It’s something he is thinking about.
I have other rules that have stopped other conversations. I have strong opinions and this sometimes serves me well, sometimes not. I am thinking now about this conversation with my 16 year old son and I imagine it would have been very different if I had shut it down with one of my rules. I am adding to my list of things I want to do with my10000days: I want to whittle away some of the rules that I have so that I can be more open. So that I listen. And, if he does decide to join then I have 18 months of my10000days to spend getting brave enough to watch him go.